Tornado Trailer Park (Pt. 8)
Roy had been put to work as a gofer. He spent the long days hurrying up and down the cramped tunnels and shafts; bringing water, carrying commands from the surface, doling out the day's meager servings of gruel. Within the first week his silver exoskeleton had become dented and scorched. Now he was an almost unrecognizable pile of blackened metal and creaking limbs.
Unknown to their slave masters, he had also become a conduit for information. It was through him that Clem was able to keep tabs on the others.
Roderick had been put to work in the offices. According to Roy, he had been tasked with keeping track of the mine's various hauls. If one of the shafts wasn't meeting its quota, it was up to him to tell Bargeth, who would then chastise the foremen. Once Roderick found out what happened to the workers after the foremen got done with them he'd begun to fudge the books a bit.
Clem worried about the day when Roderick's little ruse was discovered.
Kayla was in charge of keeping the lights on and the air flowing. Clem had seen her a few times, climbing onto rust-covered drilling machines or crawling into one of the hundreds of cramped tubes that housed the mine's various electrical cables and ventilation fans. In her off hours, if they could be called that, she was made to report to a massive garage on the surface where work was being done on some kind of complex contraption that she feared was some kind of war machine.
Between the three of them they had begun building a map of the installation. Roy kept it rolled up and hidden in a compartment in his thigh.
In the meantime, Clem dug.
The foremen didn't think much of him. He had come in fat and flabby, stunned by how suddenly his life had gone from normal to crazy. His first few days in the tunnels were spent wandering in a daze, trying to parse out how he had come to all this. So they had beaten him. And starved him. And then, when that didn't seem to do any good, they threw him into the deepest tunnel they could find and told him to dig.
What they didn't know was that they had started a fire.
Clem had seen everything get taken away from him. His home, his life, even his whole world. Now they dared to take his freedom as well. He treated each of his days like a grueling, fourteen hour workout. At first every muscle in his body protested and he seemed to get weaker. Then, little by little, he started to change. His beer gut melted, his arms and legs grew stronger, and his resolve began to harden like forged steel.
No one was going to save them except themselves. There was no cavalry riding over the hills. But in order to beat the combined forces of Bargeth and his cadre of foremen and slave masters, they would need an army.
So Clem had also started to make friends.